I had a great day today. My wife and I took our kids into the city. We had a wonderful meal in Koreatown then went to Broadway to see Wicked, the first Broadway show for my kids. We were masked the whole time but it was still a sublime slice of "normal" fun after a year and a half of COVID. These are the kinds of days one cherishes.
This week also brought yet another release of The Beatles' Let It Be, a taste of the coming Peter Jackson doc. I put it on tonight after everyone else went to bed and the first song, "Two Of Us," resonated like never before. When it came out people thought it was about John and Paul, but it really describes a fun day Paul and Linda had together. It's a song about the quiet joy one gets when you've finally found the person you want to share your life with. Today for me was certainly a "four of us" version of that.
Back in my teens and twenties John was my favorite Beatle. I admired his rebellion and wit, but later learned he could be an abusive drunk. My belief in the Lennon myth had been punctured, and so I gravitated to George. In my tumultuous thirties I admired George's deadpan taking the piss attitude. As I struggled to find a way post grad school and eventually left academia I identified with George's frustrations in the band. His first album, All Things Must Pass, is loaded with amazing songs and proof that his talents were not being fully recognized. Laboring in the halls of academe as tirelessly as I did with so little reward made this something I could understand so well.
Strangely enough, I have elevated Paul to favorite Beatle status in my 40s. This was mostly due to becoming a family man and learning about how much Paul prioritized his wife and children. Linda got horribly mocked for her amateur musicianship but I still find it touching that Paul always had her by his side on the road. This is a man who had his priorities straight. Family was always more important than rock star decadence. (It has also become clear to me that Paul was both the best musician and song writer in the band.)
"Two of Us" also reflected Paul's correct instincts that the Beatles needed to get back to basics in order to stay relevant. Dylan's Basement Tapes and the first Band album were signs that psychedelia had played itself out and there was a need to "get back." The song is stripped down, driven by acoustic guitar and Paul's always supple bass playing. In sound and attitude it's a million miles from the likes of "I am the Walrus." Lyrically it's just a plain ode to having a great fun day with the ones you love. We have so few such days in our short lives of toil that we have to cherish the sublime ones we do get on occasion.
It has the repeated assertion "we're on our way home." My God it feels so good to have a home in this world. The biggest reason I left academia was the physical distance it put between my wife and I. Being together and starting a family was what I chose and I will never regret that. Days like today are why.